Electronic Rights: What’s Fair?

In response to David Neff's call for contributions to the topic, Life@Work editor Stephen Caldwell describes the electronic rights policy at his publication.

When we started Life@Work Journal, I did some research and found there was a wide range of payment for Christian writers-starting at zero, moving to a free T-shirt and climbing slowly to about 25 cents a word. We pay above that, although we're still at the low end of what many secular publications pay.

After two or three revisions to our contract, we settled on one that grants us all rights, including electronic, to the article. I go over this with the writer before I send the contract. We often make adjustments for particular writers, and we address those adjustments in a rider to the contract. In each case, our fee includes the electronic rights.

We've only had one writer ask for a higher fee because we were getting electronic as well as print rights. I told him I thought the fee was fair for the article he was providing. In this case, I felt certain we wouldn't post that article on the web, but he wanted the right to sell it to some other web publication. Of course, everything is negotiable. If it had been a one-of-a-kind article, I probably would have agreed to a higher fee.

If we paid less, I probably would consider adding to the fee for the articles we post. As a writer as well as an editor, I do believe writers deserve appropriate compensation when their work appears in more than one media. What's fair? Well, as I was told when trying to figure out our base pay for freelance writers, everything's negotiable.